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First Attempt Comic Book Dry Cleaning

  • imcubillo | Male | 43 years old

August 2021

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The other day I found myself watching 'dry' comic book cleaning videos on YouTube and decided to give it a try. The videos showed individuals using various eraser type tools to remove unwanted marks, inks, and other imperfections - I thought to myself how hard could this possibly be?

Here is the account of my first cleaning attempts.

Step 1: The Supplies

Not having much knowledge aside from what I watched online I decided to stick to the basics. I purchased several Hi-Polymer White Erasers, 1 Rubber Eraser, and utilized an old paint brush laying around the house. Total investment was $5 from Amazon.

Step 2: The Lucky Candidates 

Several years back I bought a lot of 300 Valiant Comics which contained many damaged and poor condition issues. I had no trouble finding several lucky participants from this box. I chose two H.A.R.D. Corps issues because of their white colored covers - one contains a decent Jim Lee cover.

Step 3: Let's Get Cleaning

I have to caveat that I am not a finesse person and rely on brute force. That brute force is not ideal for cleaning these books. But I did my best to be patient and methodical in the process.

I started with H.A.R.D. Corps #7 which was very dirty on the left hand top corner of the issue. I took half of the rubber eraser and rolled it into a small stick and used it like a pencil to go over color and small trouble areas. I attempted to blot with the eraser - but settled on light rubbing followed by reshaping the rubber and using different parts as the pencil point.

The regular eraser I used on all white areas - it will take color away if you use it on anything else. This an easy process and I used the paint brush to get rid of eraser residue.

I spent approximately 30 minutes on each book - slightly going over areas either with the white or rubber eraser based on the color of the troubled areas.

Step 4: Results of H.A.R.D. Corps 7 

  • The sky is a nice mixture of blue and white - I removed some of the blue as a result of trying to clean up the white. Next time I may purchase a white pencil eraser instead of the block I was utilizing. 
  • That Valiant Star logo on the masthead is hard to navigate and I found myself rubbing away some of the black ink. 
  • I accidentally removed some of the $2.25 price.
  • I creased the top right of the issue as I was erasing when I accidentally caught the corner
  • Overall: It does look cleaner - but I feel that whatever good I did was only negated by removal of some of the colors, removal of the black around the price, and creating a nice new crease

Here you can see a lot of the markings have been removed - at the expense of the Valiant box and price tag. The second image seems much better and I didn't sacrifice any additional colors.  

There was a lot of markings along the spine which I was able to remove. This was easy as the white eraser does work miracles. Does not seem to be at the expense of anything major.

Overall I think the issue seems much cleaner. You can see the top right of the after photo has a dip from where I creased it. 

Step 5: Results of H.A.R.D. Corps 1

  • This issue was much cleaner than the previous and proved to be much easier 
  • I was more careful and didn't cause any additional damage to the book 
  • The fact that I only had to clean the white areas made it much easier
  • For the color areas I simply blotted and rolled the rubber eraser back and forth
  • Overall: The white really seems to stand out much more and everything is much cleaner

The spine of the book is much cleaner. I was more careful around that Valiant Star and kept the majority of the black intact - hey it even reads $2.50. 

Overall it does seem much cleaner. 

Step 6: Lessons 

  • I am not attempting this on any key, valuable, or issues that I care about.
  • It will take a good amount of practice for the cleaning results to outweigh any damage - and if the cleaning results in damage then why do it. 
  • Getting a small white pencil eraser will come in very handy 
  • Patience is the key!

Let me know in the comments what you think. Have you attempted this before? Have any lessons or suggestions that can improve the process?

Come check out more content and reviews: https://mycomicstack.blogspot.com/

  • Aug 3, '19 by dough boy's avatar dough boy
  • Nice job. Way too involved for me.
  • Aug 6, '19 by atom's avatar atom
  • Great post! This is a nice example of learning about something I never knew I wanted to know more about! I've heard this can be done, but have never been brave enough to try it out. It looks like it requires a VERY steady hand. Thanks for sharing this.
  • Aug 8, '19 by MegladonALPHA's avatar MegladonALPHA
  • Interesting. Might try it.
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